Acclaimed WNC exhibit coming home to show at Nevada Legislature

Photo courtesy of the Dallas Morning News

Photo courtesy of the Dallas Morning News

“Always Lost: A Meditation on War” is returning to its roots.

Western Nevada College’s acclaimed creative writing/photographic exhibition about the costs of war will be on display in the Nevada Legislative Building’s second-floor atrium on weekdays from April 17 to May 3.

An opening ceremony for the exhibit is planned for 1 p.m. on April 17. It will include a presentation of the colors and sounding of Taps with remarks by Robert Crowell, mayor of Carson City; Nevada Senate Majority Leader Moises Denis; Nevada Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick; and Caleb Cage, executive director of the Nevada Office of Veterans Services.

The exhibit is free and will be open to the public weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hours may be extended if the Legislature is in session after regular business hours. Inquiries regarding extended hours may be addressed at 775-684-6800.

“Always Lost, A Meditation on War” began as a creative writing class assignment at WNC in 2009 based upon an idea by Sociology Professor Don Carlson, who observed that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were perhaps the most impersonal that the United States has ever fought. This developed into a long-term effort by English Professor Marilee Swirczek and her students to personalize the costs of war through words and images.

The exhibition offers a sacred space to contemplate those personal and collective losses. At the heart of the exhibition is the Wall of the Dead, which depicts the faces and names of the more than 6,500 servicemen and women who have died in those wars since Sept. 11, 2001. The images, combined with writings by the students and other Northern Nevadans, and Pulitzer Prize-winning combat photos used with permission from the Dallas Morning News, comprise the exhibit. It also includes a study of Spc. Noah Pierce, an Iraq war veteran who took his own life after serving two combat tours in Iraq. Interviews with student veterans represent the thousands of service members who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Project Manager Amy Roby said she is pleased that the exhibition will be on display in Carson City.

“It is fitting that this project, which originated in Carson City and has been traveling across our nation since fall 2010, will be shared with Nevadans in such a special place,” she said. “It is an opportunity for all of us to recognize the sacrifices made by our military service members in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.”

A second traveling exhibit is currently on display at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, the 15th venue on the tour.

The exhibit that will show at the Legislature is newly replicated, thanks to a gift from Carson Nugget/Community First. The newly created exhibition will make its debut at the Legislature.

Swirczek shares Roby’s appreciation.

“We are humbled to share the exhibition, which has been called ‘a national treasure,’ with our honorable legislators as well as with our community,” she said. “We know that the exhibition, in their care, will be beautiful and meaningful.”

Always Lost appears in conjunction with SENarts, a partnership among the Nevada Senate, Nevada Arts Council, and Nevada Division of Museums. The partnership includes arts competitions, programs, and a campaign to build the Senate’s permanent arts collection.


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